It’s also the time when scams and identity theft stories become daily news. The latest target for hackers? Your Accountant. A tax return has every piece of information about you and your family they want. Hackers are targeting small accounting firms thinking they may not have enough security in place to keep them out.
One of their objectives is to find the tax return that shows a refund. The hackers then replace your banking information with theirs. By the time the fraud is detected, they have taken the money, closed the account and moved on. This has become a serious problem. Tax Refund Fraud To learn about other types of fraud, see the IRS 2017 list of "The Dirty Dozen" tax scams.
Living Pro Sports means not only moving from team to team but other factors make us more vulnerable to identity theft. Many athletes have more than one address and file more returns than the average citizen, thanks to the “Jock Tax.” The Jock Tax is the colloquially named additional income tax levied against those earning their living from professional sports. It is an additional tax paid to the city and/or state when money is earned in that jurisdiction. This additional tax requires those in sports to file from 10-15 additional returns each year.
Have your identity and information compromised and the usual 10-15 returns become 20+. Identity Theft Departments in each filing city and state will require their own documentation and procedures to help process your return and verify your identity.
Where does one start?
1. If your information has been compromised, contact the IRS and each city and state. Your accountant will help you with this process. They will flag your account and require you to paper file your returns sending them to the Identity Theft Department. You with need to provide a copy of your Driver’s License and a notarized signature. For IRS information click here: IRS Identify Theft Info
2. Put in place safeguards to protect your identity and to receive notification if there is unusual activity on your accounts. There are several options. You may contact each credit reporting agency individually (contact information provided below) Each credit reporting agency offers different programs depending on the level of protection you seek and the number of people you wish to safeguard.
Another option is a comprehensive identity protection service such as LifeLock. They offer several options as well.
What about college age children or minors?
Take this short quiz to see what you know and don’t know about the risk of identify theft to children. This will help you determine what might be the right choice when protecting their identity: Child Identity Theft - Are You in the Know?
A credit freeze is a good option, especially for children. Each year in the United States, approximately 15% of all cases of identity theft are cases of new account origination identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This form of identity theft occurs when a criminal opens a credit account under someone else's name.
If you wish to place a freeze on your account or that of your child, the three credit reporting agencies, at this time, do not share information. You must place a freeze with each company for each person independently. It is important to keep in mind that freezes must be removed prior to applications for new credit, mortgages or other loans.
Freezes are handled differently in each state and the fees vary as well. To learn more about or to place a credit freeze on your information or someone in your family, visit each credit agency provided.
Experian: select your state here: Security Freeze
Equifax: Security Freeze
TransUnion: Security Freeze
It is never too early to take steps to protect your identity. Review which company can provide you with the protection you need to keep your information safe.
Experian Mailing Address
Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Experian Phone Numbers:
800-509-8495: Dispute Credit Report Items
888-397-3742: Report Requests & Fraud Help
877-284-7942: Existing Customer Support
888-243-6951: Business Credit Services
972-390-4908: Fax Line
Equifax Mailing Address
Equifax Credit Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Equifax Phone Numbers:
866-349-5186: Dispute Credit Report Items
800-685-1111: Request Free Credit Report
888-766-0008: Place Fraud Alert on Profile
866-493-9788: Existing Customer Support
888-202-4025: Business Solutions
404-885-8078: Fax Number
TransUnion Mailing Address
TransUnion Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
TransUnion Phone Numbers:
800-916-8800: Disputes Items & Status Checks
877-322-8228: Free Annual Credit Report
800-888-4213: Purchase Credit Report
888-909-8872: Place a Security Freeze
800-493-2392: Credit Monitoring Customer Support
866-922-2100: Business Services Assistance
610-546-4771: Fax Machine
LifeLock Mailing Address
60 East Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281
LifeLock Phone Numbers:
800-543-3562: General Information - Corporate
800-416-0599: Customer Service
888-244-9823: Fax Machine
A Coach's Perspective.
It was so easy to see it, but we didn't imagine what it would take to achieve it. If we did, it wouldn't be a dream.
Remember to breathe.
Got questions? Answers? Insights? Whatever you want to ask or tell, go ahead and use this form.